History of The Guelph Giants Special Hockey Foundation
2006-2007: Inaugural Season
The Guelph Giants commence their inaugural season with an initial 2 Giants and finish our first year with an impressive 21 Giants that pioneered the program for future athletes. These Giants braved the cold and had practices at 7am on Sunday mornings in Guelph’s infamous cold Exhibition arena. The team only had team jerseys with our logo on them by February. The team plays no exhibition games over the course of the year and does attend the SHI tournament in Arlington, Virginia from April 18-22, 2007. The 12 players that attended truly represented the City of Guelph with a great deal of pride, sportsmanship and class.
The Giants program started its second season with more new athletes (23) than before and has also been able to position the program to have its first exhibition schedule with other GTA teams that are part of Special Hockey International (SHI). The Giants are also able to play during an intermission game for the first time at the Guelph Storm. The team attends the most impressive SHI tournament banquet to date in North York, Ontario hosted by the North York Gladiators.
The club has added several new players in its third season bringing the total in the season to 25. Giants are also rewarded with being honoured to play at Ray Scapinello’s local charity ball hockey team with a new special needs hockey division that follows the season. The organization now has found a permanent home at Guelph’s West End Community Centre which is one of the city’s premier facilities. The team also celebrates their success on becoming a Registered charity with the CRA. The annual SHI tournament is held in Toronto, Ontario by the Grandravine Tornadoes.
The 2009-2010 season brings about many firsts for the club. The Giants have effectively grown to complete capacity that the Board has set out to do originally with 30 athletes participating in the program. We were able to increase the entertainment value for all fans by introducing sound system at all home games. The team also participated in their first Christmas Float which was spearheaded by the Deverell family giving the Giants such positive community publicity. Giants attended the SHI tourney in Orangeville, ON hosted by the Orangeville Wolves which was the first time the tournament has ever been hosted by a rural community.
The Giants have continued to improve their program with the expansion of their program into two ice times represented by a junior and senior level. This has been done in order to enhance the experience of all players with the hope of improving their skills with similar competition. As well, the focus for the organization was representing the City of Guelph at the SHI Tournament which was held in Boston, Massachusetts in April of 2011. The club’s players were excellent ambassadors of our city and our program on the international stage.
The GGSHF has had many memorable moments over the course of a success season that saw several new Giants enter the program this year. Our GM, Glenda Deverell, lead the program hosting a talent show contest in the fall with several local acts as well as several Giants participating; the evening was a success and fun was had by all in attendance. Both Giants teams represented the program well over the course of the exhibition season with our trademark blend of sportsmanship and skill. Our executive is constantly amazed at how much we’ve grown in 6 short years! To cap off the season, the team travelled to Jamestown, N.Y. for our SHI tournament where we were greeted with wonderful hospitality and a great tournament for the players to be a part of.
NHLPA Goals & Dreams supports the Guelph Giants Special Hockey Foundation
On Saturday March 10th, Ray Scapinello was the honourary referee and in attendance to officially present to the Guelph Giants a donation of 15 sets of equipment for families in need on behalf of the NHLPA's Goals and Dreams program. It is through Ray's partnership with this organization that the Giants were even considered for this program. The value of this equipment is approximately $7,500 and will go a long way to helping those families outfit their athletes who demonstrate a financial need.
On behalf of the entire Giants organization, we cannot thank Ray, and Matt Langen from the NHLPA enough!!!